GRA’s Platform Isn’t Grounded in Reality

Loren Collins has spent some time recently on social media documenting the Georgia Republican Assembly’s 35-page platform. The document is filled with common tropes from the far-right and leans heavily on Christian nationalist rhetoric, which, sadly, is increasingly common in today’s conservative politics.

I read through the document and responded to some specific parts of it. There are as many typos as there are contradictions. There are aspects of it where racism is apparent. Christian nationalist themes are all over it. I could spend an entire blog post on how Christian nationalism is dangerous, but I’m not going to do that today. Instead, I want to focus on certain aspects of the platform that I find either unrealistic, politically untenable, not grounded in reality, or racist. (In the event the GRA’s platform is taken down, I’ve saved the PDF. Then again, I doubt it’ll be taken down because the GRA has no shame.) Parts of the document that I haven’t highlighted shouldn’t be taken as agreement.

“Sanctity of Life: We believe that the preborn child, from conception onwards is a human and entitled to the full protection of the law.

Scot, Buzz, and I have discussed abortion on the podcast to the point where it really doesn’t come up much anymore. We are of different minds on the subject. I respect their opinions, which are very similar. I assume they respect mine even though my view is at odds with theirs.

Abortion is a difficult subject for many Americans and is not viewed as a black-and-white issue by most voters. The position the GRA has here is a minority position. Like, minority as in 12 percent of Americans want to prohibit abortion in all circumstances. We all know that the 2022 midterm went badly for Republicans because of the issue of abortion. Granted, Georgia was an exception, even though the state put a six-week abortion law in place, but some Republicans only barely won. Eliminating abortion entirely in Georgia would be hugely problematic for Republicans.

Right to Bear Arms: We believe in the unqualified right of our citizens to keep and bear arms.

Look, I recognize that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership. I’m a gun owner. I’ve been a gun owner for years. I had to go through a background check to purchase my firearms. However, the Second Amendment is subject to, as the Supreme Court has said, reasonable regulation. It’s not an absolute right.

Taxes: We believe that the federal tax system is abusive to the American people while discouraging investment and growth. We favor the repeal of the income tax, eliminating punitive wealth, ad valorem, and inheritance taxes, and moving our tax system toward that originally established by our Founding Fathers.

One of the problems with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is that it was a corporate tax cut disguised as an individual tax reform bill. The individual tax cuts and reforms expire at the end of tax year 2025, but the corporate tax reforms were permanent unless otherwise stipulated by law. I’m not at all a fan of the income tax, but we have to realize that the system isn’t going away. A flat income tax with a generous standard deduction should be the goal, or something reasonably close to it.

Put simply, it’s categorically stupid to advocate for the elimination of the income tax in favor of a system from the 18th century or 19th century unless you’re also advocating for the elimination of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Good luck with that. Modernizing those programs to bend the cost curve, which is difficult enough, is the better course of action.

Tariffs, duties, excise taxes, and other forms of taxation “originally established by our Founding Fathers” just isn’t going to raise a lot of money. We would run massive deficits.

“Family: We believe that the traditional American family of one father, one mother, and their natural, adopted, or recognized children, is the building block of American society, and all governments are bound to honor and protect the integrity of the family unit.”

If you’re ever wondering why evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are hemorrhaging supporters, opposition to same-sex marriage is one of those reasons. That opposition often comes across as vile hatred. According to PRRI, 61 percent of Georgians support same-sex marriage while 70 percent support nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

“The Foundation of Our Liberty: We gratefully acknowledge the blessing of Almighty God as the source of law and liberty. We ask for His spiritual guidance as we seek to restore the American government to its moral and constitutional foundations. We believe that our rights flow from the Creator are unalienable and cannot be legitimately granted or rescinded by men. We believe that America is an exceptional nation, founded on the Biblical and Anglo-Saxon common law principles of life, liberty, property rights, hard work, the pursuit of happiness, and personal responsibility and accountability, and we further believe in the guiding force of moral law as expressed in the Holy Scripture.”

I have so much to say, particularly about that last sentence. I recognize that I’m the lone atheist here at Peach Pundit the Blog. Let’s just say that I have serious reservations about the last sentence considering the brutal conquest of Canaan, during which YHWH often demanded that inhabitants of the cities that ancient Israelites supposedly conquered be killed, including women and children.

Speaking only for myself here. Morality should be based on two things: empathy and the Golden Rule. Unfortunately, my experience is that there isn’t much empathy on the right, and what’s there seems to diminish the further into the conservative movement you go. Of course, that’s true of the far-left too.

“Reimplementing the first Trump term ban on Wall Street and employers from putting 401ks, pensions, and retirement accounts into ESG investments, making it permanent and unable to be gutted.”

Uhhhhh, what’s limited government about a federal mandate prohibiting employers from using ESG investments? You may not like it, but if private companies are doing this, it’s none of your business.

“Prosecution and seizure of all ESG businesses and their wealth to properly dismantle them, outlaw them, and redistribute the wealth they collectively hold effectively among the federal government and the people.”

Again, what’s limited government about this? This is fascist nonsense.

We support the reform of Social Security that allows people to opt-out…We support reform of Medicare that allows Citizens to opt-out in favor of competitive private healthcare insurance of their choice that utilizes their FICA retains.

So, GRA doesn’t propose eliminating Social Security and Medicare. Folks, these two programs together are $2.251 trillion in FY 2024 and $4.214 trillion in FY 2034. Tariffs ain’t gonna cut it.

GRA proposed constitutional amendment, “Spending Limitation: Total outlays of the Federal Government for each fiscal year shall not exceed 17.5 percent of the GDP in peacetime.”

I’m curious how GRA came to this number. The average between FY 1962 and FY 2001 was 19.8 percent of GDP. Include FY 2002 through FY 2021, it’s 20.4 percent. Currently, federal outlays are projected to be 24.1 percent of GDP. Now, about a quarter of that is discretionary spending. The majority of it is mandatory outlays (which include Medicare and Social Security) and net interest on the debt. Outlays for Medicare and Social Security alone will be 12.8 percent of GDP in FY 2034. (That figure grows substantially the further out we look.) Add in defense discretionary spending and net interest, we’re at 19.7 percent of GDP. Of course, we had to eliminate all nondefense discretionary spending and all veterans programs, as well as other nonveterans programs, to get there.

GRA proposed constitutional amendment, “Immigration Limitation: The net number of legal immigrants admitted annually to the United States shall not exceed 250,000 without the concurrence of four-fifths of the senators and representatives present in each house.”

This is the first of the immigration stuff. Folks, this is unworkable. I realize the GRA doesn’t quite grasp our need for immigration, but let me just lay it down for you right here. Our replacement rate has plummeted because, as a society, we’ve decided to have fewer children. So, the consequence of that societal decision is a decline in the population.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the United States will have more deaths than births in 2040. The only increase in our population will come from immigration. Under the baseline estimate from the Census Bureau, the population of the United States would begin to decline in 2081. Under reduced immigration levels, the decline would begin in 2044. If immigration were ended completely, the population of the United States would begin to decline in 2025. Under high immigration levels, the population would grow, but growth would eventually slow, although it won’t decline.

Considering that production is what makes an economy grow, a declining population means a declining workforce, and less production and output. GRA would have ensured America’s decline.

“First Amendment – Freedom of Speech: We declare our unwavering support to the original concept of free speech as understood and by the founding citizens of the United States and guaranteed in the First Amendment and will support legal means to protect this right where it is challenged at the state and federal levels. The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. Free of Speech includes both verbal and non-verbal expression, including both spoken and written words regardless of their presentation. Media companies shall not infringe on the reach of free speech that they do not arbitrarily agree with.”

Considering all the God talk, I don’t know that I believe GRA when it talks about the freedom of religion. However, that’s not the point here. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech. Of course, the right to free speech isn’t absolute. The right to free speech also doesn’t absolve someone of societal repercussions. You have a right to spew hate speech, but don’t expect to be free from criticism and don’t be surprised when you become a pariah. However, the First Amendment is a prohibition on the government. It doesn’t include private companies like Meta and Twitter, nor should it.

“Political Speech: The people of a truly free nation have not only their own thoughts, but also the ability to articulate it. We will fight political correctness, which takes away the right to speak from conservatives, nationalists, right-libertarians, and privileges leftists, socialists, and communists and promotes ideas and lifestyles detrimental to the foundations of our nation. We the people of the United States of America have the right to decline any and all forms of LGBTQ+ indoctrination, whether it be in print media, digital advertising or motion pictures. While all People have the right to communicate their preferences and biases, a small subsector of the population does not have the right to demand their alternate lifestyle be acknowledged, with judicial backing and punitive enforcement. No person is more important than another; therefore, a micro community can not be allowed to demand preferential treatment everyday, in every way. The colors of the rainbow are just that – colors of a rainbow to be enjoyed by all, not distorted to mean something unnatural. June is the end of Spring and the first month of Summer.”

Thank you for proving my point, GRA. You want freedom of speech, but only the speech with which you agree.

GRA proposal on criminal justice, “The permanent designation of Fentanyl as a federally controlled substance.”

Fentanyl is already a scheduled controlled substance. It’s on Schedule II. Likely what GRA is referring to here is fentanyl-related substances, or FRS, which have been temporarily scheduled since 2018. Congress has extended that temporary scheduling every so often because there’s no consensus in Congress on how to handle FRS. The problem with permanent scheduling is that not all FRS are addictive and/or deadly. Some may even have a medicinal benefit. Further research into FRS would be significantly hampered if FRS were classwide banned on Schedule I.

By the way, methamphetamine is the drug for which most people are incarcerated at the federal level, and it’s not even close. It’s about 45 percent to 49 percent of all federal drug trafficking cases each year. When Congress cracked down on meth in the late 1990s, it was about 12 percent of all drug trafficking cases. See more here.

GRA proposal on criminal justice, “Instructing Congress to ensure that drug dealers, kingpins, and human traffickers receive the Federal Death Penalty regardless of the location they are captured.”

GRA is so pro-life. Proportionality is a key concept in the criminal justice system. This is nowhere near proportional.

GRA proposal on criminal justice, “Construction of Seven to Nine Superprisons that can house between 50,000-100,000 criminals at any given time.”

Currently, just under 160,000 people are in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. At its height, under 220,000 people were in federal prisons. The federal prison population is really just a fraction of the approximately 1.5. million to 2 million people in prisons or jails in the United States. Why do we need “superprisons” that could hold as much as 62 percent of the current federal prison population? Also, if you’re capping federal spending at 17.5 percent of GDP, how do you propose to pay for this considering we’d have to eliminate all nondefense discretionary spending?

GRA proposal on criminal justice, “The Introduction of the Policies of El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s Prison and Crime Policies against the criminals in the United States.”

The far-right is all about authoritarianism these days. Bukele has referred to himself as a dictator, so, you know, hard pass on this. In any event, this doesn’t square with the GRA’s blabbering about the Constitution because Bukele has suspended civil liberties in El Salvador. Why is this even necessary? Crime in the United States has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels. Even when it was up in 2020, crime was still far, far below the highest levels in the past half-century.

“Capital Punishment: Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be reasonably swift and unencumbered.”

So pro-life. Capital punishment has proven to be a deterrent. If you want a deterrent, solve crimes. Currently, an arrest is made in only one out of every two homicides. Focus resources there.

“A Christian Nation: We affirm that America is a nation under God, founded on Biblical principles. We further affirm that no society can survive in the absence of moral governance. In recognizing America’s Christian heritage, we firmly support the recognition of God in the public square. We honor the tenets of our historic Christian faith and acknowledge its supremacy over man-made laws and opinions. We affirm that our Christian faith provides the surest means of securing the welfare of all mankind; and that our first allegiance is to the Lord not the State.”

So much for the previous statement about the freedom of religion. I’ve written at length about the influence of religion at the founding. GRA has it wrong here.

Remember, folks, the Constitution is a fundamentally secular document. It makes no mention of God or a higher power. The only references to religion are the prohibition on religious tests in Article VI and the freedom of religion and the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. The Declaration of Independence makes general references to a God in deistic or rational theistic language.

“Separation of Church and State: We hold that as currently practiced, “Separation of Church and State” forces a de facto state religion of degenerate Secular Humanism on everyone. We affirm that the Constitution makes no reference to ‘separation of church and state.’ We support the original meaning and intent of Jefferson’s separation theory of church and state, which prohibits the federal government from establishing a national religion (e.g., Church of the U.S.).”

The First Amendment makes no mention of the freedom of expression, but we’ve come to recognize it as part of the freedom of speech. Yes, the wall between church and state exists, and it wasn’t only a Jeffersonian theory. Writing in 1819, James Madison, who drafted what became the First Amendment, explained, “It was the universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Govt. could not stand without the prop of a Religious establishment, & that the Xn religion itself, would perish if not supported by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Govt. tho’ bereft of every thing like an associated hierarchy possesses the requisite Stability and performs its functions with complete success: Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.”

In 1822, Madison also wrote, “I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

“Pro-Children: We support the encouragement of large families as a means of growth in our national population as opposed to large levels of immigration.”

Well, that’s not happening because birth rates have collapsed. GRA also has a plank in here about making sure families can live on a single-income. That’s a code for something else. I’ll leave it to you to figure that out on your own.

“Definition of Marriage: We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between one natural man and one natural woman.”

I’ve already gone over this, but good luck with that. If you don’t want to get gay married, don’t get gay married, but you don’t have a right to deny others from the recognition that their relationships deserve, particularly when so many benefits are tied to marriage.

“No-Fault Divorce: We urge the various State legislatures to rescind no-fault divorce laws.”

This has been all the rage on the right lately. The goal here is to keep people, particularly women, in marriages they don’t want to be in.

“Ukraine: We call for an end to U.S. funding in the Russo-Ukrainian War and the U.S. government should stop funding this war.”

Putin and the Kremlin thank you.

Repeal Hart-Cellar Act: The Hart-Cellar Act of 1965 was sold to the American people based on lies and half-truths and has led to the largest demographic disruption in US history and as such must be repealed.

I’ve worked in public policy for more than a decade, and I’d never heard of the Hart-Cellar Act. I had to look it up. You know what it is? It’s the Immigration and Nationality Act. This isn’t outwardly racist, but the sentiment here is. White people stopped having kids. It’s just that simple.

This is really all I have time for. Whoever wrote this at GRA needs to seek therapy.

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